Wholesale Snow Crab
Easy-to-Snap Opilio & Bairdi Crab
Opilio vs Bairdi
There are two species of Snow crab harvested from the icy waters of the Bering Sea in Alaska: Chionoecetes opilio and Chionoecetes Bairdi. Opilio, which are sometimes referred to as Opies or Queen crab, are the smaller, more readily available of the two species and typically weigh 1 ½-2 lbs. Bairdi, also known as Tanner crab, can range in size from 3-5 lbs and command a higher price due to their size and restricted quotas. Many crabbers consider Bairdi to be the best of Alaska crab for its combination of meat fill, flavor and thin shells which are easy to crack.
Opilio: Popular for its mild taste and tender meat, Opilio typically weighs 1½ -2 lbs and is noted for its long, easy-to-crack legs.
Bairdi: The largest species of Snow crab, Bairdi can reach 3-5 lbs in weight and is favored for its sweet taste and delicate texture.
Snow Crab Habitat
Snow crab are found in the very cold waters of the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea. They live on the muddy and sandy bottom of the continental shelf and slope, where they feed on animals living in the sediment and avoid predators by burrowing into the mud.
Opilio and Bairdi are typically harvested at average depths of 360 feet below sea level during the frigid winter months of January, February and March. Harvest can be challenging as crews face icy conditions and cold, stormy waters. 800 lb traps, called pots, are set with bait and then retrieved within 36-48 hours. Boat crews use hydraulic lifts to raise the pots, which can weigh over 1,000 lbs when full.
From the Bering Sea to You
Snow crab is kept in holding tanks aboard the crab vessel until it can be delivered from the Bering Seat to shore. Once landed, the crab is cooked, cleaned, sectioned and frozen. The freezing process creates a protective glaze that ensures Keyport Snow crab retains its wild-caught flavor during shipping. To guarantee the best taste experience and food safety, keep frozen until ready to thaw and use. Do not thaw and refreeze.
Sustainability and Stewardship
According to Fishwatch, “U.S. wild-caught Alaska Snow crab is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.” FishChoice concurs, giving Snow crab from Alaska a “Best Choice” sustainability rating. Alaska Snow crab is harvested off of the coast of Alaska in the Bering Sea under the management of NOAA Fisheries, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in order to ensure sustainability for future generations. Only male crabs of a certain size are harvested, allowing the females to reproduce and replace the ones that were harvested. Economic sustainability is also addressed in the Alaska Snow crab fishery through the Community Development Quota Program which opens participation and investment to eligible coastal communities by allowing them ten percent of the harvest.
Snow Crab Cluster Sizing Explained
Opilio and Bairdi crab legs are typically sold in clusters, which include four legs and one claw. The name of the cluster size corresponds to the weight of the cluster. A smaller 5/8 cluster, for instance, weighs between 5-8 ounces while a large 12+ cluster is over 12 ounces.
What are Snow Crab Cocktail Claws?
Our Snow crab cocktail claws are the perfect appetizer! A favorite of caterers, our claws come partially shelled for easy eating. Like all our wholesale Snow crab, our cocktail claws come pre-cooked and frozen. Simply thaw and serve.
Purchasing Wholesale Snow Crab
Our crab experts are happy to help with Wholesale Snow crab pricing, special cuts and retail packaging. Keyport typically requires a minimum order of 600-1000 lbs for shipped orders of wholesale Opilio and Bairdi. Live chat, call or email for inventory and pricing today.